Books on academia and parenting, part 3

Each week, Symposium Magazine invites an author to guest-blog. This week’s featured piece is Being ‘Different’ in a High-Achieving World by Allison Stevens. She reviewed “Raising Henry,” an account by Columbia professor Rachel Adams on raising a child with Down syndrome.

In her book, Adams explores some of the challenges she encountered as a parent in an academic setting. This post closes out this week’s discussion of other titles for readers who are interested in reading more about this topic.

Mama, PhD: Women Write About Motherhood and Academic Life, is a personal look at parenting in academia, released by Rutgers University Press in 2008. This anthology of personal narratives has a common theme: even though more and more women are entering the junior ranks, their numbers among tenured faculty – especially women with children – have not increased in a generation. Those who do achieve tenure still advance more slowly and earn less than men.

The book’s editors, Caroline Grant and Elrena Evans, describe the book as the one they wished they had when they entered graduate school and the job market. Grant got pregnant the same week as she landed a good teaching job; soon thereafter, she realized she needed to leave academia to manage parenthood. Evans suffered from pregnancy complications while working toward her Ph.D. and took a year off to rethink her commitment to the academe.

Last but not least is Parenting and Professing: Balancing Family Work with an Academic Career, released in 2005 by Vanderbilt University Press. Edited by Rachel Hile Bassett, who received a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Kansas, these 24 essays explore the challenges women face when they combine parenting and academic work, and many offer suggestions for change. Wrote one reviewer in the Women’s Review of Books, “the collection makes one reflect anew upon the centuries-long silence of academic fathers on the subject of parenthood, an effective and devastating separation of public and private life.”














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